1.         Białowieża Forest (Belarus,Poland) (N 33ter)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1979

Criteria  (ix)(x)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger  N/A

Previous Committee Decisions  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/33/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/33/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds


Previous monitoring missions


Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/33/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2003


The National Commission of Belarus submitted a report on the situation of the site dated 10 September 2002, providing the following information: 1. The name of the site has been changed following the Decree of the President of Belarus dated 16 March 1999. This had no impact on the legal status of the site. 2. Concerning the logging of 17 lots of relic forest and 200,000 cubic meters of forest, the report stated that these were due to an outbreak of bark- beetle. The World Heritage status applies only to the absolute preservation zone and in this area no logging took place, only in other functional zones. 3. Concerning commercial hunting, it stated that wolf hunting is allowed, as wolf numbers have increased. Within the GEF project on the “Protection of Biodiversity of Forest in Belovezhskaia Pushcha”, animal counts were carried out and recommendations were made. 4. The drainage system was already set up in the 1960s – its negative effect on the adjacent ecosystems is now stabilized and the areas are gradually becoming covered by forest. Small water reservoirs are in place. 5. Concerning the gas reservoir, the report underlines that no construction of such reservoirs is undertaken in or near the World Heritage site.

In a report received on 11 September 2002 from the Director of the Polish National Park, it was stated that due to extremely dry years, the loss of spruce stands and dispersion of bark- beetles have been observed. Operations of cut-out and removal of dead spruce stock from the forest were carried out.


IUCN has received a large number of letters and E-mails from local and international NGO’s and concerned individuals in relation to the state of conservation of this transboundary site. In particular, they highlighted extensive logging operations in both countries around the site, logging of trees more than 100 years old, and concern over the management of the bark-beetle infection and felled trees, which are inducing negative impacts on the site.

IUCN notes, however, that the information received from these various organizations and individuals through letters or discussions with IUCN staff, is often conflicting with that received from the two States Parties. As a result, IUCN highly recommends that a joint IUCN / UNESCO monitoring mission be invited in order to gather first-hand information on the state of conservation of the site and to meet with the various stakeholders in each country. 

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN


Decision Adopted: 27 COM 7B.14

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Notes the information provided by both States Parties;

2. Encourages UNESCO and IUCN to undertake a monitoring mission to visit the property in 2003 in co-operation with the States Parties to review the state of conservation of the property and possibilities for transboundary management co-operation and to meet with all relevant stakeholders in both Belarus and Poland;

3. Requests a report on the mission to be provided in order that the World Heritage Committee can examine the state of conservation of the property at its 28th session in 2004.